NFL Week 2 takeaways, stat leaders

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Week 2 in the NFL was marked by numerous injuries to big-name players, wild comebacks, huge individual performances and then some more injuries to big-name players.

In Sunday’s early slate, Saquon Barkley, Drew Lock, Nick Bosa and Jimmy Garoppolo headlined a long list of players who were forced out of their games and potentially face longer absences. The 49ers, in particular, were battered with injury issues throughout their win on Sunday. Elsewhere, the Cowboys mounted a huge comeback against the Falcons to win on a field goal in the final seconds, the Titans held off the Jaguars for a close win to take sole possession of first place in the AFC South and the Bears escaped a Giants rally in the closing minutes. The Eagles stumbled to another loss, and the Vikings’ offense couldn’t find any footing in their defeat. And as far as big performances go, Aaron Jones shined in going over 200 scrimmage yards and scoring three times.

All that and more in Week 2‘s biggest takeaways from NFL Nation.

Jump to a matchup:
LAR-PHI | ATL-DAL | DEN-PIT
SF-NYJ | MIN-IND | DET-GB
CAR-TB | BUF-MIA | JAX-TEN
NYG-CHI | CIN-CLE

Standout performer for LAR-PHI: Jared Goff, 20-of-27, 267 passing yards, 3 TDs, 0 INT

The Rams’ offense fired on all cylinders. Jared Goff completed 13 consecutive passes to start the game, as the Rams’ play-action and misdirection kept the Eagles’ defense on its heels. Seven Rams players recorded a carry, while six caught a pass. “We had guys open, and I was throwing the ball pretty good,” Goff said. Now the offense must maintain momentum as the Rams return to L.A. before traveling to the East Coast again next Sunday to play the Bills. — Lindsey Thiry

Next game: at Buffalo (1 p.m. ET, Sunday, Sept. 27)

Carson Wentz (242 yards, two interceptions) could not match the level of play of his old training partner, Goff, and now the Eagles are in an 0-2 hole. Philadelphia needed its franchise quarterback to elevate the offense and meet the moment, and he didn’t deliver despite a much-improved performance from the offensive line. There is plenty of time to turn things around, but the concern is growing when it comes to the starting QB.

Next game: vs. Cincinnati (1 p.m. ET, Sunday, Sept. 27)


Standout performer for ATL-DAL: Dak Prescott, 450 passing yards, 1 passing TD, 3 rushing TDs

The difference between 1-1 and 0-2 might not mean what it had in past years, with an additional wild-card team being added to the mix this season. But how the Cowboys got to 1-1 is more meaningful than the fact that they’re back to .500. Overcoming a 20-0 deficit in the first quarter and a 15-point hole with less than five minutes to play to beat Atlanta is something that could give this team a push going forward. “I think we all know where we want to go, and we all understand it’s a process,” linebacker Jaylon Smith said. “We embrace each moment, but whenever you win in the National Football League, you have to embrace it. We’re going to evaluate the footage and figure out how we can get better and grow. This is not a sprint. It’s a marathon, and we want to peak when we need to peak.” — Todd Archer

Next game: at Seattle (4:25 p.m. ET, Sunday, Sept. 27)

No matter how you dissect it, this was an embarrassing loss for the Falcons and one that could linger the rest of the season. An 0-2 start was not what owner Arthur Blank signed up for when he decided to keep both coach Dan Quinn and general manager Thomas Dimitroff after back-to-back 7-9 seasons. Yes, it’s too early to rule the Falcons out of playoff contention, but a fast start was critical, especially with how difficult NFC South play will be against Drew Brees‘ Saints and Tom Brady‘s Bucs. Quinn said he’s just going to take things game by game, and he gave an emphatic “No,” when asked whether any coaching changes would be made. The Falcons have no choice but to turn it around against a surprisingly undefeated Bears team next week at home, or else they could find themselves 0-4 out of the gate with a road trip to Green Bay in Week 4. — Vaughn McClure

Next game: vs. Chicago (1 p.m. ET, Sunday, Sept. 27)


Standout performer for DEN-PIT: Mike Hilton, 1 sack, 1 fumble recovery, 8 tackles

Ben Roethlisberger looked mortal in his home debut with an interception and a couple of missed throws, but he emphasized that the offensive miscues were his fault, complimenting his receivers for running the right routes and being in the right place. “A lot of the throws I missed is me needing to trust myself and that the guys are in the right spots because they are in the right places,” Roethlisberger said. With the offense struggling to find an identity in the third quarter, the defense came through to preserve the win, making up for gifting the Broncos six first downs on penalties with a massive 11-yard sack on fourth down by Terrell Edmunds with less than two minutes remaining. — Brooke Pryor

Next game: vs. Houston (1 p.m. ET, Sunday, Sept. 27)

Since Peyton Manning retired after the 2015 season, the Broncos have used seven different starting quarterbacks, and Pat Shurmur is now their fifth different offensive coordinator in the past five years. Jeff Driskel could be the eighth starting QB next week after Drew Lock left the game in the first quarter with a right (throwing) shoulder injury. Driskel tried to rally the Broncos before a failed fourth-down conversion inside the two-minute warning ended those hopes. And for the Broncos to have any success next week, they need to protect Driskel. Lock and Driskel were sacked a combined seven times and hit 18 others. — Jeff Legwold

Next game: vs. Tampa Bay (4:25 p.m. ET, Sunday, Sept. 27)

Standout performer for SF-NYJ: Jordan Reed, 50 receiving yards, 2 TDs

A team that was already without tight end George Kittle, receiver Deebo Samuel, defensive end Dee Ford and cornerback Richard Sherman watched as defensive end Nick Bosa (left knee), quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (right ankle), running backs Raheem Mostert (knee) and Tevin Coleman (knee) and defensive tackle Solomon Thomas (knee) departed the game and did not return. Bosa might have suffered a torn ACL, something coach Kyle Shanahan said is “most likely,” and a high ankle sprain for Garoppolo could cost him time. “You’ve got a little mixed emotions when you lose some guys like that,” Shanahan said. “We had a good team last year and we have got a good team this year. I just told the guys we do have a good team, but there’s also so many guys in our place that can get a lot better.” The Niners will need that improvement to happen fast as they wait and hope for better days to come on the injury front. — Nick Wagoner

Next game: at N.Y. Giants (1 p.m. ET, Sunday, Sept. 27)

The Jets are an absolute mess, and the Adam Gase Watch is on. They were noncompetitive for the second consecutive week, regressing in all areas. CEO Christopher Johnson said last week that he will base his end-of-season evaluation on Gase on whether the team shows progress. At the rate the Jets are going, he won’t make it to the end of the year. Injuries are mounting, making the challenge that much greater. — Rich Cimini

Next game: at Indianapolis (4:05 p.m. ET, Sunday, Sept. 27)


Standout performer for MIN-IND: Jonathan Taylor, 101 rushing yards, 1 TD

The Colts’ defense responded to a poor performance in Week 1 by intercepting Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins three times, sacking him three times and holding Minnesota’s offense to 175 yards. At one point in the second half, Cousins had a 0.0 rating. The Colts needed a game like Sunday to avoid questions about a defensive unit that was supposed to take a step forward with the addition of DeForest Buckner and the return of Darius Leonard. For one week, they answered those questions. — Mike Wells

Next game: vs. N.Y. Jets (4:05 p.m. ET, Sunday, Sept. 27)

The Vikings are in trouble. In a year in which the defense is undergoing a major rebuild, the offense has not been able to pull its weight and bail out the entire team in two miserable early-season losses. The identity of this team is not what it’s been for the past six seasons, and according to coach Mike Zimmer, the Vikings are “not very good at anything.” It’s going to take a while before Minnesota’s defense is back to being one of the top units in the NFL. Until then, the offense has to find workarounds for its lackluster pass protection, unproven receiving corps (outside of Adam Thielen) and disastrous play at quarterback. — Courtney Cronin

Next game: vs. Tennessee (1 p.m. ET, Sunday, Sept. 27)


Standout performer for DET-GB: Aaron Jones, 168 rushing yards, 68 receiving yards, 3 total TDs

How can the Packers not pay Aaron Jones after he totaled a career-best 236 yards from scrimmage and scored three touchdowns against the Lions? In a perfect, non-salary-cap world, that wouldn’t even be a question. Even in the world in which the Packers operate, they’re going to have to start asking themselves that question if the fourth-year running back with an expiring contract keeps doing what he did in Sunday’s win over the Lions in the home opener at Lambeau Field. — Rob Demovsky

Next game: at New Orleans (8:20 p.m. ET, Sunday, Sept. 27)

The Lions lost a double-digit lead for the fourth consecutive game, which was also their 11th straight loss. At least the collapse didn’t come at the end of the team’s loss to Green Bay this time. Instead, it happened at the end of the first half and start of the second, when a 14-3 lead evaporated with 31 straight Packers points. At 0-2, 2020 is starting to feel a lot like a continuation of last season, when the Lions went 3-12-1 and were one of the worst teams in the league. — Michael Rothstein

Next game: at Arizona (4:25 p.m. ET, Sunday, Sept. 27)


Standout performer for CAR-TB: Leonard Fournette, 103 rushing yards, 2 TDs

The Bucs’ defense notched four takeaways, with two setting up scoring drives, while Leonard Fournette broke out for 103 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 12 touches. The offensive line also didn’t give up a sack. That’s exactly the kind of support Tom Brady and his receivers need while they continue to get more and more on the same page. Brady went 23-of-35 for 217 passing yards, a touchdown, an interception and a fumbled exchange with Ronald Jones II. “I think consistency, dependability are gonna be things we really need,” Brady said. “Defense played great the first two games. We’ve gotta match ’em.” — Jenna Laine

Next game: at Denver (4:25 p.m. ET, Sunday, Sept. 27)

The question isn’t whether the Panthers can turn things around after an 0-2 start. It’s whether they can do it without their best player, running back Christian McCaffrey, if he misses time with an ankle/lower-leg injury suffered on a 7-yard touchdown run with about 13:30 remaining. Sunday’s loss to Tampa Bay was filled with mistakes, highlighted by quarterback Teddy Bridgewater‘s four turnovers. Those things can be corrected, and Bridgewater doesn’t have a history of being mistake-prone. But replacing McCaffrey, who last year became the third player in NFL history to have 1,000 yards rushing and receiving in the same season, won’t be so easy if his injury is serious. — David Newton

Next game: at L.A. Chargers (4:05 p.m. ET, Sunday, Sept. 27)


Standout performer for BUF-MIA: Josh Allen, 417 passing yards, 4 TDs, 0 INT

Buffalo didn’t just improve its passing offense this offseason — it might have become one of the most proficient aerial attacks in the NFL. Josh Allen has looked like an elite passer over his past two games, and trading for Stefon Diggs (8 catches, 153 yards, TD) has immediately paid off. The Bills’ ability to put points up quickly will serve them well now that their schedule gets a lot more difficult over the next month. — Marcel Louis-Jacques

Next game: vs. L.A. Rams (1 p.m. ET, Sunday, Sept. 27)

It was eye-opening to see how Allen exposed what was supposed to be the strength of the Dolphins, their pass defense. But the biggest takeaway? The Dolphins continue to show fight and improvement, but they have gaping flaws that show they are still a rebuilding team rather than a team truly competing for the AFC East. At 0-2, the Dolphins look like a team at least a year or two away, rather than a team truly ready to compete for a playoff spot. — Cameron Wolfe

Next game: at Jacksonville (8:20 p.m. ET, Thursday, Sept. 24)


Standout performer for JAX-TEN: Stephen Gostkowski, 2 of 2 FGs, 3 of 4 PATs

Even in a win, the defense needs to perform better. Tennessee gave up 165 rushing yards to the Jaguars, and it had a lot of missed tackles. Gardner Minshew II also threw for 339 yards and three touchdowns, as Jacksonville gained 480 yards on offense. But the Titans were fortunate to get two late stops on the last two drives by the Jaguars, and Jeffery Simmons‘ tipped pass intercepted by Harold Landry sealed the game. — Turron Davenport

Next game: at Minnesota (1 p.m. ET, Sunday, Sept. 27)

The Jaguars made stopping Derrick Henry a priority, limiting him to 84 yards on 25 carries. But they couldn’t stop Ryan Tannehill, who threw for 239 yards and four TDs. The Jaguars were down starting free safety Jarrod Wilson but had every other starter in the secondary until cornerback D.J. Hayden was evaluated for a concussion on the Titans’ game-winning drive. The Jags didn’t get much pressure on Tannehill, either. They sacked him just once and now have only two sacks through the first two games of the season. — Mike DiRocco

Next game: vs. Miami (8:20 p.m. ET, Thursday, Sept. 24)


Standout performer for NYG-CHI: David Montgomery, 82 rushing yards, 45 receiving yards, 1 receiving TD

The Bears are 2-0, but it’s impossible to tell if they’re actually any good. Just when you want to start believing in Matt Nagy’s offense and quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, the Bears score zero second-half points against a depleted Giants defense. Chicago’s defense — a group Nagy recently referred to as the NFL’s best — has played spotty football through two weeks. And New York’s offense — without Saquon Barkley or Sterling Shepard — almost erased a 17-point deficit and won the game as time expired on Sunday. That is not how a championship defense is supposed to look. The Bears have benefited from playing two subpar teams to open the season, but the schedule won’t remain soft forever. — Jeff Dickerson

Next game: at Atlanta (1 p.m. ET, Sunday, Sept. 27)

The Giants likely lost Saquon Barkley for the season to a torn ACL. “I mean, that’s Saquon Barkley,” running back Dion Lewis said after the loss. “You lose a guy like that, it’s a huge loss.” The Giants also lost WR Sterling Shepard (toe) and are 0-2 for the fourth consecutive year and seventh time in eight seasons. But at least they can take some solace from almost battling back from a 17-point halftime deficit without Barkley. The Giants had the ball on Chicago’s 10-yard line with four seconds remaining and a chance to win the game. — Jordan Raanan

Next game: vs. San Francisco (1 p.m. ET, Sunday, Sept. 27)

Standout performer for CIN-CLE: Baker Mayfield, 219 passing yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT

Coming off a rough 2019 season and even rougher 2020 season opener on Sunday, QB Baker Mayfield roared back with perhaps the sharpest performance since his rookie season. Mayfield connected on his first five passes, including a 43-yard TD to Odell Beckham Jr. After struggling in the 32-point season-opening loss at Baltimore, Mayfield said the potential of a talented offense built around him was “not just false hopes.” Cleveland will have tests ahead tougher than Cincinnati, but this was a strong step, both for Baker and the Browns. — Jake Trotter

Next game: vs. Washington (1 p.m. ET, Sunday, Sept. 27)

Rookie quarterback Joe Burrow showed flashes of his potential for the second time in five days, throwing for 316 yards on 61 attempts with three touchdowns. But after Thursday’s loss, it’s clear Burrow needs those around him to play well if he’s going to make the most of his first NFL season. In his second pro start, Burrow was able to move the offense down the field despite the lack of big plays. However, the rookie constantly found himself under pressure and needing to overcome the play of his teammates. — Ben Baby

Next game: at Philadelphia (1 p.m. ET, Sunday, Sept. 27)



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